I created my first Facebook account in 2006. A friend, familiar with the organization, assured me it was going to be huge. I didn’t use that account much, but as Facebook grew in popularity and more people I knew were using it, I got increasingly drawn in. This was before the era of the smartphone and my desktop computer was my exclusive porthole into social media. I’d check Facebook for a few minutes each morning, again in the evening, and maybe in the middle of the day if I wasn’t too busy. It was far from being the center of my world.
The evolution of my Facebook use was subtle, but increased over time. The more connections I made, the more time I spent using the platform. And as evolutions go, I barely noticed what was happening. With the advent of the smartphone and the Facebook app in 2008, the social network left my desktop for my hip pocket. On a dime, I went from checking it 2 to 3 times a day, to checking it in the grocery line, at traffic lights, waiting for a waitress to take my order, and anytime I wasn’t otherwise engaged — including airport bathrooms. It became central to my daily experience.
As my use increased, I found value in the platform — I’m a people person and Facebook is made out of people. I’m also an introvert with a tendency toward social awkwardness, so it allowed me to fulfill my need for human connections, but from a safe distance. I enjoyed connecting with people over music, fitness, and art. I also participated in my share of sophomoric hijinks, including homemade videos of my talking dog.
Between 2010 and 2015, as the tenor the nation began to sour, Facebook became more political, more volatile, and increasingly divided. Finger-pointing, abusive language, and vitriol became the the currency of exchange for many. As this manifest, it became a badge of honor for some to be sent to Facebook jail, to have their accounts suspended, or like my brother in 2020, banned from Facebook for life. During this time, many left the platform of their own accord due to the negativity.
As the platform grew more negative, I leaned in with a more positive presence. I shared original stories, original photographs, and kept my interactions as positive as possible, though I still participated in some sophomoric hijinks — because in a nation absent of decorum and struggling to stand up straight, I never lost my sense of humor.
As interactions grew more negative, the call increased from governments, action groups, and parents for Facebook to minimize threats, abusive language, and people who abuse the platform. Facebook responded with the use of artificial intelligence (bots and algorithms) to determine who was violating their “community standards”. Those in violation would have their use limited or suspended, with little recourse on the part of the offender. As this continued, inconsistencies began to surface in how Facebook justice was administered…
Recently a woman photographed a dramatic image — her own shadow against low gray clouds. The image was magnificent and made it around the internet in a matter of days. When a friend shared it on Facebook last week, I made the comment…
“Witchcraft. Burn her…!“
Within 48-hours I was notified by Facebook my comment went against community standards and my account had been suspended for 3-days. This came just two weeks after a similar suspension for using the word “execute“ in a proper sentence. Keep in mind, no human being was a part of that judicial process. Justice was administered by artificial intelligence. The algorithm did give me the opportunity to appeal my sentence, but made clear the appeals process could take several weeks — for a 3-day suspension.
With nearly 3-billion accounts, I understand why Facebook could never staff or pay enough humans to take on a task that bots and algorithms can do far more efficiently. I also understand that they’re working to minimize kinks in the process so innocent people don’t have their accounts suspended for using the word “execute” in a proper sentence. In truth, I really don’t have an issue with my account being suspended for those minimal infractions.
The issue I have with Facebook though, is its repeated use of the term “community standards”. This is a company who’s representative have a lied under oath before the US Congress. It’s a company which has manipulated its algorithms in ways to make the platform more addictive for everyone, including and especially children. It’s gathered information for the benefit of selling it without user knowledge. It eavesdrops as a means of targeting and redirecting its advertisers. It has knowingly created divisions among users because those divisions have been proven, by Facebook‘s own staff, to keep users engaged longer and more frequently.
In short, Facebook is a manipulative, devious, and self-serving enterprise which puts marketshare and profit ahead of all other concerns — including the mental health of children. I don’t need them preaching community standards when a part of their mission is tearing communities apart on behalf of marketshare and profits. Nearly all of what I’ve shared on Facebook, going back a generation now, has been positive in nature. I’m one of the good ones — one of the people who tries each day to make the experience positive, not just for me, but for those I interact with.
What Facebook bots and algorithms don’t take into consideration when they suspend or ban users like me, is that they’re also separating families and friendships. I’m grateful each week I can connect with friends and family around the world. That experience has helped me during difficult times. Facebook is also a business tool for me — I use it to promote my small business, and always in a positive way. My Spoke And Word Page on Facebook has been the best therapy I’ve ever had for dealing with my mental health issues.
In a world where it’s reinforced daily that we shouldn’t take things personally, I take this very personally — I’m hardwired that way. I’ve been one of Facebook‘s biggest fans. Despite their corporate nonsense, the miracle of global interconnection can’t be overstated. The influence on my life, from people I’ve connected with via that medium, has made me a more rounded person and broadened my mind in ways I could’ve never imagined to 2005.
Being suspended for an innocuous comment negatively impacted my livelihood, my personal relationships, and even my mental health. I’ll accept this, my second 3-day suspension, and I’ll likely return to my Facebook routine when it expires — maybe. That said, if I find myself suspended for an innocent comment again, I’ll walk away and never look back, even at the expense of family connections, my business, and my mental health.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
15.1 mph avg
Seat Time: 10 hours 12 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Leo Sayer. Enjoy…!
Unfortunately I haven’t spent too much time on bikes this summer — not as much as I would’ve liked to. On the flipside, I’ve traveled more this summer than in the last 10-years combined.
Just closing out a 3000-mile road trip from San Diego to Mystic Connecticut. Going to do the same trip in reverse in about five weeks, and then hunker down hard to work through the winter — and to ride my ass off.
No bicycle pictures this week, but here are some nuggets from the road this past week. All photos taken with an iPhone 11, no color adjustments, with only small light and contrast adjustments. In the comments, please let me know your favorites and why, and I’ll let you know where it was taken.
This is what I think about when I don’t ride… Jhciacb
Not a lot of bicycling got done this week, though I did spend an evening riding around San Diego. I traveled to western Nebraska to visit my brother and some friends. It says a lot that I live in San Diego and enjoy spending time in Nebraska. Rather than the blog this week, I’m just going to leave a few photos of some beautiful countryside in the southwest corner of the state, not far from the Colorado border.
I’ll be back next week with something more substantive, probably. In the meantime, I hope this helps you appreciate that Nebraska isn’t just an ocean of cornfields with a large football stadium on the eastern side. I love my brother and I love Lemoyne — and I miss them already.
The last series are some photos I took in San Diego, the night before my flight. All photos were taken with an iPhone 11, with no color adjustments. Some have slight contrast and brightness adjustments. Enjoy.
Last month was the 48th anniversary of my first visit to a weight room. I still remember the 45-pound barbell falling to my chest — my muscles too weak to do much about it. I somehow managed to extended my arms and return the bar to the top position. The man spotting me was Officer Ray Bingham of the Denver Police Department. He was part of a program to help delinquent kids like me learn to lift weights. My parents thought it might be a better outlet than vandalizing neighborhood mailboxes and cars — something I excelled at as a 12-year old.
Bingham told me to lower the bar again which I did, but it didn’t go much better the 2nd time around. Once again I returned it to the top position — my right arm doing most of the work. In addition to the bench presses, we did some leg extensions that day, some lat-pulldowns, and sit-ups. I was so sore the next day I couldn’t go to diving practice. With that soreness though, came a sense of purpose I’d not previously known.
I’d spend the next 48-years lifting weights for an hour per day, nearly every day. I built my entire life around lifting weights and eating to support my workouts. Since pre-adolescence, getting the gym and getting enough protein each day have held more real estate in my head than any other ideals. Though I never developed a world-class physique, I’ve always had more meat than most.
This past March, after some 15,000 workouts, I made a decision I would’ve thought unimaginable even six months earlier — the time has come to quit chasing meat. That is, I’ve made the decision to back off on my strength training sessions, and the dietary support of required to gain/maintain muscle mass, and enjoy a more moderate lifestyle — and this time I mean it.
I make my living teaching people my age and older that they shouldn’t worry about gaining more muscle mass. The focus, I suggest, should be on getting better at using the muscle they already have. Keep it active, keep it strong, not to worry about making more of it. I believe this is a good way to be over the age of 50. Still, when I’ve been in the weight room and as I’ve prepared each meal going back to preadolescence, my mindset has always been about increasing my muscle mass.
Age though, and the law of diminishing returns have been asserting their will against me. By my early 50s, I possessed every gram of muscle I would ever have. It’s been a gradual decline since. That’s not to say I’m getting weak and frail. I just don’t have the meat I had in my 40s and 50s. And to be clear, I still enter the weight room every day — because being strong is a good problem to have.
My workouts today are still challenging, but the intensity and the volume have decreased. The workouts are geared more toward everyday strength — the kind of strength that stays with me when I leave the weight room. In the modern age, physical autonomy is a virtue, but seems to be on the decline with many.
Though I no longer look like an action figure, I do look athletic and that’s going to have to do. Most importantly, my workouts are less stressful these days, and walking into the weight room has been less daunting and less intimidating. Perhaps for the first time in a decade, my workouts fit me like a glove.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
Last week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 5
Mph Avg: 15.0
Seat Time: 10 hours 26 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. Oh, and there’s this from Stevie Wonder. Enjoy…
Over the weekend I took a two-day bike tour to the top of Palomar Mountain — and back. After riding across the Mojave in May, I promised myself I’d do at least one overnight trip each month, and this was my first.
I went with low expectations. I’ve never even been to the top of Palomar in a car, let alone a bike, and didn’t take time to scout the ride. I watched YouTube videos of area cyclists and became aware that this is the climb in San Diego bike culture.
What I couldn’t find, despite using every key search term imaginable, was information about bikepacking on Palomar — riding to the top, but with camping gear like a bicycle tourist. I was surprised and began to question whether this climb was doable with gear.
Some common terms from cyclists who’ve documented their climbs of Palomar not carrying gear included hell, torture, pain, and never again. What would an extra 25-pounds do to my experience…? I dunno 🤷🏼♂️.
From my house, it’s just 40-miles to the top — a distance I ride regularly. And most of that ride was easy, with roughly 2000’ of gradual climbing to get to the base of the mountain. The 16-mile ascent though, took me nearly 4-hours. By comparison, the ascent the following morning took just under 30-minutes.
I booked a space at Observatory Campground, just a few miles from the observatory itself. I figured once I got my tent set up, I’d leave my gear, do a little hiking, and take some pictures. A funny thing happened on the way up…
It was the hardest physical challenge of my life. Just-3 miles into the climb, I decided I couldn’t do it — I quit. I took out my phone and called the Lazy H Inn, a country motel just a few miles from where I stopped. I was going to ask if they had a room for the night. Then I thought about my friend Andy, who in support of my ride, ran to the highest point in his community in northern England earlier in the day. I hung up my phone and continued my ride. For 13-miles I just kept repeating Andy‘s name. It was slow going and it was hard, but I wasn’t going to quit. I was also reminded of my friend Tim a few weeks back crossing the Mojave… “We’ll be fine…”
About 3-miles from the summit, my legs began cramping. With my experience in fitness, I knew how to minimize cramps. For the last few miles, I’d ride roughly a half-mile, stop, stretch, do some deep squats, and rest for about 10-minutes. That was the protocol to the top. I finished all my liquids in those last few miles.
When I arrived at the convenience store just beyond the summit, it seemed fitting that the attendant was closing the door as my bike entered the parking lot. I was less than 50-feet away when she flipped the sign in the window to CLOSED. So much for Powerade. When I arrived at my campsite, before setting up my tent or unpacking my gear, I went to the water spigot and drank two bottles and did a little more stretching. The cramps soon subsided.
The campsite was a fun 5-mile descent from the summit, which felt good after climbing all afternoon. When I reached for my phone to text my love ones I’d made it, there was no service. I asked a fellow camper if he knew where the nearest service might be. He said the closest service was in the parking lot of the convenience store I’d just left. I didn’t want anyone worried about me so I got back on my bike, rode to the convenience store, and sent several texts letting people know I was okay.
Back at the campsite, I setup my tent and sleeping roll. The other thing I failed to take into consideration, along with a lack of cellular service, was the profound infestation of flies and mosquitoes that have claimed Palomar. I didn’t count mosquito bites, but the fly bites hurt worse. I took caution to keep the door to my tent closed except when entering and leaving. Without bug spray, the tent would be my salvation.
Of course with no cell service, there was no music, no YouTube, and no movies. Just writing and thinking — two of my favorite things. Since I needed one more frustration, along with the bugs and the lack of Internet to complete the trifecta, the campsite beside me had 6 matching sky blue tents — all filled with pre-teen girls from an area church. So help me God, everyone of them was named Morgan. After getting settled, I was tempted to face Mecca, bow, and pray for a while. I chose to just sit quietly for a moment and give thanks to God instead.
Exhausted from the afternoon, I took a short hike as the sun was setting, but made it less than a half-mile before I turned around and climbed in my tent for the night. Dinner was two Annie’s vegetarian burritos and a Larry & Larry vegan cookie. From the window of my tent, I watched the moon pass through some pines and decided to turn the light out.
Photos below are from earlier in the week…
The church girls beside me giggled into the night, and the White Trash Family Robinson arrived at the campsite on the opposite side a little after 10pm. They listened to Foreigner and shotgunned beers as they set up camp. When I woke Sunday morning, there were actually three recliners beside their campfire — they simply took their living room for a drive.
At 5am I began stowing my gear. I was on the road by 5:45. Descending Palomar was spectacular. The morning light highlighted the views through every hairpin turn and overlook. From the time I left the summit, I didn’t take a single kick for 16-miles — it was a total freeride. I rode slow through the orchards and groves of the Pauma Valley with a sense of pride from what I’d accomplished. I was home by 10am.
Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll do this again. I’m glad I did it — and glad that I didn’t quit. The ride was the epitome of Type A fun — the kind of fun that’s made up of exhaustion and determination, and doesn’t actually become fun until it’s over. Okay, I’ll probably do it again or something similar, but I’m definitely going to pack lighter.
This is what I think about when I ride it… Jhciacb
Last week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
Mph Avg: 12.6
Seat Time: 13 hours 38 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. Oh, and there’s this from The Inmates. Enjoy…
At some point during each ride, I find myself contemplating the trials and tragedies of others. Not for amusement, but out of humility. I think about those in my periphery — friends, family, and acquaintances, as well as those I’ve crossed paths with via social media.
As I stand out of my saddle and pedal up steep grades or glide down the other sides hoping to pass cars ahead of me, I chew on the adversity of others more than I think about my own. By comparison, I often think, I don’t even know what adversity is. This the exercise within my exercise — an excellent daily reminder of how blessed my life is.
Completing the adversity of others is a grounding reminder that many I know have interruptions in their own blessings, and that sometimes those interruptions are severe. I love them and I always pray for them.
It’s been a decade since Gretchen died. She was in her late-40s, a client and friend who I occasionally hiked with. One afternoon, while walking across a restaurant floor on her way to the restroom, Gretchen suffered a heart attack. The EMTs revived her, but she passed away the next morning. Only minutes before, she had texted another friend that she was having one of the best days of her life. There hasn’t been a week go by since, that I have not thought about that, at least a little bit.
A few years later, the 13-year-old daughter of another friend passed away suddenly, on her way to a family outing with her parents and two brothers. That loss has crossed my mind a few times a day ever since. Though I never knew Clara, the suddenness of her loss impacted me as much as any.
Several years ago a friend in Colorado allowed a tree to get between she and a fantastic downhill run she was having that day. She spent several weeks in the hospital, suffered multiple broken bones, a short term head injury, and some permanent scarring on the right side of her face. The scarring is minimal, she is skiing again regularly, and she has since finished college. She refers to the scars on her face as “The signature of good fortune“.
Because I ride past his house daily, I think of Dave. He was a client who was complaining about shoulder problems about a few years back. He was concerned our workouts were causing the pain he was having under his upper right arm. After a doctors visit and a couple of referrals, is shoulder pain turned out not to be workout related. The pain was coming from his lymph nodes, the result of lung cancer that he was unaware of. After a couple years of fighting it, the cancer won.
Those are just a few examples of adversities that have touched me, but have clearly touched those connected to them far more. With each passing year there’s always one or two more. At some point, there might be so many adversities that I’ll be able to think of little else.
The joke in my family is this…
I don’t have to get an annual physical. I just get my blood work done when I visit the emergency room each year. Though I do land in the emergency room frequently, I’ve been quite fortunate that nothing putting me there has caused me much difficulty. There have been setbacks, but nothing that approaches the term adversity.
Maybe it’s because I ride by markers each day where cyclists have been struck by cars. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen more than a handful of gurneys being loaded into ambulances driving away from the remains of mangled motorcycles, bikes, and cars. Most likely though, it’s because I know the risks involved with daily cycling, that I think about the adversity of others and the impact it has had on their families and friends.
As much as anything, these daily thoughts remind me of just how good my life is, and how I should strive to protect and appreciate it.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
Mph Avg: 14.7
Seat Time: 12 hours 26 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. Oh, and there’s this from Spooky Tooth. Enjoy…
There’s something about a bicycle — you experience travel at a human scale. You see, smell, hear, and feel your surroundings just like walking or hiking. Cycling takes place though, at a pace where you can actually go somewhere.
Last week my friends Ashley, Tim, and I rode our bikes along Route 66 from Victorville California to Seligman Arizona. We did this over five days. Below are some of the highlights.
Day One: Shuttling The Car…
We met in Seligman Arizona which would be the final destination of our tour. I drove from Fallbrook while Tim and Ashley arrived from Phippsburg Colorado. We spent the night at The Historic Route 66 Motel in Seligman. Our rooms were comfortable, clean, and decorated with plenty of Route 66 shtick.
After checking into our motel, we walked around Seligman and met a few locals. We also met Pancho, who may have been a ridgeback/bulldog mix. Pancho was both friendly and photogenic. There’s not much in Seligman — just a crossroads of Route 66 and I-40. It’s s also a staging area for trains. It was charming though, and I’d like to go back and spend a couple nights there sometime.
We ended the evening with dinner at the Roadkill Café. The food was excellent, and as you’d expect at a restaurant on Route 66, the walls were adorned with remnants of mid-century America, including a Rickenbacker 6-string which Tim couldn’t ignore.
Day Two: Barstow To Victorville And Back — 52 miles
The following morning we left Tim and Ashley’s car in Seligman and headed to Victorville in my car with our bikes — but we never made it. Driving west from Seligman we decided to start in Barstow. We took a motel room in Barstow, staged our car, and took a day ride from Barstow to Victorville and back. It was a way to get in a few extra miles and get warmed up for the rest of the week.
A couple things I already knew about the desert, but was reminded of during our ride from Barstow to Victorville and back…
– The desert is hot
– The desert is dirty
– Desert communities which thrived 40 or 50 years ago have been largely abandoned
– People in the desert make cool shit out of junk
– The desert is where meth comes from
In-between the two towns though, the landscape was magnificent. I’m fascinated by desert horizons, shapes, contrasting hues, and where the jagged earth meets the faded blue sky in a beautiful conclusion.
We rode strong and had no issues that day. We stopped 25-miles out of Barstow at The Bottle Forest. We didn’t learn too much about it, but it appears to have been there for a while. Someone has crafted dozens of trees by welding small steel stems to vertical steel poles. The branches are adorned with old glass bottles, electrical line insulators, and antiques such as typewriters, musical instruments, cash registers, and more. There was a young couple having the prom pictures taken there. We thought that was cool.
Day 3: Barstow To Ludlow — 53 miles
This would be a short day, just 53 miles. We had a slow start out of Barstow. Roughly a mile in we had to make an adjustment to the trailer Tim and Ashley pulled behind their tandem bike. The adjustment took just a couple of minutes, but finding somebody to open the tool cachet at Walmart for the vice-grips we needed took nearly 45-minutes. Every Walmart is a Walmart, but the Walmart in the Barstow is the Walmartiest Walmart in the world. Every stereotype in the book.
Back on our bikes and just a few miles further down the road there we found ourselves at the front gate of the Marine Logistics Base in Barstow. Apparently Route 66 cuts through the base but civilians aren’t allowed on. They detoured us onto I-40 or a few miles before we could reconnect with Route 66.
From there we had a flat stretch with a tailwind that carried us at 19 mph for roughly 10-miles. We slowed a little from some shallow climbing for 30-miles or so. The riding day ended by descending into Ludlow a little after 1:30pm.
Temperature along the way was 103°. Riding wasn’t too difficult, but we definitely felt the heat. We stopped a couple of times along the way to take some photographs of railroad car graffiti, the basalt infused Martian landscape, and to drink water under the shade — but there was no shade.
After checking into our motel, we had lunch at the Ludlow Café. There we met two bicycle tourists, Eric and Alicia. They’re riding from coastal Orange County to Trenton New Jersey. Eric‘s mom passed away last year and he’s delivering some of her ashes to Trenton, where she’s from. It was fun to connect with them. We talked about bikes, routes, and just got acquainted a bit. I wished them well on their endeavor and tried to not let on that I was jealous.
We had a good night sleeping at the motel, and left early the following morning for Needles.
Day 4: Ludlow To Needles — 110 miles
This would be our longest stretch 110-miles and coincidentally in 110° heat. We got off to an early start, leaving Ludlow just before sunup. To our surprise, and not too far down the road, was a barricade that stretched the width of the road.
Our next section of Rout 66 was closed to traffic. Wait, what… 🤷🏼♂️ We came to ride Route 66.
We decided to take our chances and go around the barricade. Within a couple miles there was another barricade — we went around that one also. We just kept heading east, mile after mile, going around intermittent barricades. To that point, the road looked fine and we couldn’t understand why it was closed.
Maybe 10-miles in we began noticing portions of the road were washed out beside each barricade. We passed a half-dozen or so sections where large chunks of the road were washed out. There was always enough pavement though, to cross our bikes over safely. There was one section of road that was completely washed out so we carried our bikes around through the dried wash.
Long story less long…
We got to ride a 62-mile stretch of Route 66 with virtually no automobile traffic, except the occasional engineering vehicle in the area to assess the washed out portions of road. We road side-by-side and for much of it, and on the left-hand side of the road. We joked that we were taking the English Route 66.
I can’t stress enough what a gift that was — 62-miles of the nation’s most historic highway with no automobile traffic. Might have been the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike. I can’t imagine they’ll have the road fixed anytime soon, so I may go back later this summer and ride that stretch again.
The town of Fenner California is little more than a Chevron station with $8.49 per gallon gas. We stopped there to replenish our water bottles, take in some air-conditioning, and eat a little ice cream. There we met up with Eric and Alicia again. We enjoyed a little refrigeration time with them, rehydrating, and slamming calories. I drank four Vitamin Waters in less than 5-minutes and got so chilled that I went outside to warm up again.
Overall the day rode well. We had a tailwind for much of the day. Most of the climbing was gradual and the heat didn’t get to us until the last 20-miles or so. We stepped into the hotel in Needles tired but not defeated — we had just ridden across the Mojave desert in the peak of the day, and had fun doing it. After checking in we headed straight to the Chinese restaurant across the parking lot. Riding long distances in the desert heat will make you crave strange things. For the last few miles of the day, I just wanted to drink a bottle of blue cheese salad dressing, but settled for vegetables with tofu.
Thinking about our mileage that day, and missing Stroodle, I got to thinking if there’s such a thing as dog mileage — like dog years. I wondered if our 110-mile journey would’ve been more like 200-miles to him. You know, little legs and all.
Day 5: Needles To Kingman — 63 miles
We rode only 63-miles from Needles to Kingman, but climbed in excess of 5,000 feet by way of Oatman — some of the steepest climbing I’ve ever done. The temperature was 105°. If I counted correctly, I drank (10) bottles of water or Gatorade that day.
Oatman is an interesting town, small, touristy, and not much there really. Virtually every shop we walked into, the first words the shopkeeper spoke were…
“Ten-dollar minimum for debit cards…“
Oatman had a half-dozen burros walking around, soliciting food from tourists willing to pay five dollars for a handful of grass pellets. One shopkeeper, assuming we had no idea what we were doing, assured us that we had a difficult climb ahead. We made jokes at his mom’s expense the rest of the day.
The flipside of climbing through and above Oatman was a fun decent for about 6-miles — just coasting and taking in the scenery. Because it was a steep climb it was also a steep descent. Those 6-miles were more fun than any amusement park ride I’ve ever been on.
We did well for most of the day, even through the hard climbing. After our descent though, and a short roadside stop for fluids and food, the heat got the better of me. We had a 10-mile flat stretch into Kingman where I was feeling a little bit nauseous and loopy. At the end of that was a shallow climb and I was toast.
After checking into the motel, Tim and I jumped into the pool. I confided I was considering staying behind for a day. I was hot and exhausted. Tim understood and supported whatever decision I made. After a swim and an excellent Mexican dinner at La Catrina (highly recommend if you’re ever in Kingman), I decided to push on, which I knew I would. Maybe I just needed to hear myself speak my weakness. Yeah, that’s it.
I kept thinking of the Steven Wright joke…
“Anywhere is walking distance if you’ve got the time…”
So too with the bicycle, and I had the time.
Day 6: Kingman To Seligman — 83 miles
Riding from Kingman to Seligman is uphill most of the way. The climbing wasn’t steep, just slow going. We stopped mid-day on the Hualapai Reservation in Peach Springs Arizona. Lunch was at the Hualapai Lodge. Something about bicycle touring makes every restaurant meal the best meal ever. I ordered a basket of onion rings and began eating them before our waitress set them down. They were the best onion rings I’ve ever had, and the tater-tots I stole from Tim where every bit as good.
Perhaps an hour out of Kingman we began to see something we hadn’t seen much of during week — trees and brush. And as we gained elevation, the trees and brush increased. That would be a good thing because halfway between Peach Springs and Seligman, the bracket connecting the trailer to Tim and Ashley‘s bike broke and the trailer came loose.
If this had happened earlier in the week it would have posed a far greater problem. However, we were just a few hours from our final destination. With a car waiting at our motel in Seligman, Tim hid the trailer behind some brush and we continued on. He and Ashley would backtrack and retrieve it after checking into our motel.
With Tim and Ashley no longer towing their trailer, and with me still hauling my gear, they broke away. I finished the last 25-miles of our trip on my own — which gave me a little time to think about my mom. Mom lived much of her adult life in rural Arizona so it was a perfect place to reflect. Perhaps it was because I was thinking about my mom, or the fact that the trip was almost over, but I suddenly found myself crying as I pedaled into an unforgiving wind.
The final stretch into Seligman was brutal. Saddle-sore from a week of riding, I couldn’t stay on my seat. I pedaled standing up for the last 15-miles of the trip. As I drew closer to Kingman, the wind was as bad as it was all week. I was done — in every possible way.
When I arrived in Seligman, Tim and Ashley had already checked into the motel and were in their car ready to retrieve their trailer. I collapsed on the hotel bed for a few minutes, took a shower, I made a few phone calls to let people know I had arrived.
We had just completed the hardest part of Route 66 to ride by bicycle, and had done so in 100° heat every day. It was the most challenging physical endeavor of my life. At dinner that night, back at the Roadkill Café, we were already talking about our next our next adventure. No conclusions were made, other than deciding it needs to be a few days longer.
Straight up, Tim is the most durable cyclist I’ve ever met. Nothing bothered him. The sentence Ashley and I heard from him over and over last week was…
“We’ll be fine, we’ll be fine…“
Tim’s reassurance got us through the few tense moments we had. He was a fantastic leader.
Ashley is recovering from cancer for the second time. I’ll repeat that — for the second time…! Her final radiation treatment was in March. That’s a level of bravery I’ll never know — to ride a bike across the Mojave on the hottest week of the year while still in recovery. I was humbled by that every day.
For me, I didn’t bring much to the table other than a lot of ‘your mom’ jokes along the way. Every endeavor needs its comic relief and I did my best to do my part.
What’s the point of doing anything, I thought, if I can’t fill my social media feeds with pictures and words from the trip…? Each evening, after we settled into our motels and ate, I’d edit pictures and journal the day behind us. Tim and Ashley journaled the old fashion way, with a pen and notebook.
I ride a bike roughly 350 days per year. Each morning when I wake up, before I pet my dog or turn on the coffee pot, I ask myself, what’s it going to be today…? Where will I ride and how soon can I get out…? Waking up in Seligman Thursday morning was the first time in six years I had no desire to get on a bike. The urge will come back though, and I’ll likely have been on a bike before you read this.
Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough…
Adventure isn’t something that just happens. Adventure is a choice — it’s opening one’s self up to vulnerabilities and allowing their creative side to navigate around, through, and beyond them. Adventure might be the purest form of creativity I’ve ever known.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
The Tour By The Numbers…
12.5 mph avg
Seat Time: 31 hours 12 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Link Wray. Enjoy…!
I’ve seen things on social media which suggest that, as I watched my mother age, I’d be more likely to remember her as she was when she was young. Or at the very least, I’ll remember her as she was when I was young. When I consider this, after having had her with me for her last 6-years, I don’t see it that way. I’ve mostly forgotten my mother in her youth — the mother of my youth.
As she aged, and as her physical and cognitive abilities lessened, the images of my mother in her youth faded over time, giving way to the more indelible imprints of my mother as she was in her decline. This is not a bad thing. Five years from now or even 20, I’m sure I won’t think too much of or remember too well the mother of my youth, but I’ll always remember my aged mom.
When I think of her then, as she was when she was young compared to how I saw her these past 6-years, it’s been a tale of two women. The mother of my youth could hike, swim, stay up late, and prepare a holiday feast for 12 in less than 3-hours, but there was yet to be that earned dignity which defined her at the end.
As her steps became unsteady, as her voice began to quiver and as her hands more resembled parched road maps with coffee stains on them, the wisdom, the experience, and survivalism that came with those added up to the dignity I’ll choose to remember her with.
This is a good reminder that, as bright and capable as I may feel today, I’ve yet to pay my real dues. The dues I speak of are not the dues of career, of parenthood, or of middle-age responsibilities — I’ve done all that and so did my mom.
The real dues my mother paid — those she paid in her final years, are the most important dues of all. Those were the dues of having it all — and of having it all slowly slip away. Yet each day, despite her physical and cognitive decline, she woke with the intentions of living, loving, and being there for anyone who needed her. I’m not sure it’s in me to be that unbridled.
I’m grateful that I’ll remember my mother as person who fell asleep on the sofa each day by 3pm, who heated up a Stouffer’s corn soufflé for dinner rather than attempt to make one from scratch, who often called me by my brother’s name, and who asked me the same damned questions and offered the same stories again and again.
That person — the mother who graced this house with dignity etched onto her aging face and skin, is the mother that reminds me daily, even in the vacuum of her absence, I’ll be more like her in the not too distant future than the me I am today.
And it’s that mother, not the mother of my youth, who reminds me it’s a fool’s task to pursue perpetual youth, and that the only dignity which matters is the dignity that comes only from letting go of youth and letting go of all those things that, as time proves to us all, never mattered much to begin with.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
Mph Avg: 14.0
Seat Time: 16 hours 36 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from Spoon. Enjoy…!
The picture below hung in the upstairs hallway of my childhood home. My father purchased it before I was born, so it’s been a part of my life from my earliest days.
When I was smaller, it was over my head, both in placement and intellectually. As a toddler, I’d have to strain my neck just to look at it. In time though, I’d grow taller and my eyes would better connect with the cultures of the world. I was fascinated by the people, their varying skin tones, the different clothes they wore, and the religions they represented. I would read the message over and over again…
“Do unto others as you have them do unto you…”
Even as a child this seemed like a good way to be.
When I was tall enough, I’d remove the picture from the wall and prop it up on a table in my bedroom. I’d just stare at it — getting lost in the people and the stories they represented. The picture opened my mind to the possibilities of belief. I’d always make sure to put it back exactly as I found it though, so my parents wouldn’t know I was regularly removing it.
When my parents separated, Rockwell’s Golden Rule went with my father. Dad displayed it wherever he lived, from Montana, to New Jersey, to Las Vegas where he eventually retired. When my father passed away, the painting ended up in my hands, where it remains to this day — and I still stop to take it in daily.
Fast forward several decades…
The year I turned 40, my brother suggested I read The Religions Of Man by Huston Smith (1958, now called The World’s Religions). To this day, it remains the seminal text for introducing religion to first-year college students.
The book, like the Rockwell’s panting, captivated me. Smith’s book expanded the possibilities of belief. Every time I opened World’s Religions, and every time I’d start a new chapter, I’d flash back to Rockwell’s Golden Rule — it was a way to connect that painting with the rich history of religious observance from every corner of the world.
Each time I completed a chapter of The World’s Religions, I felt a visceral bond with the religion which had been covered. When I put the book down, I felt that I had a little bit of every religion in me. On completing the book, I dubbed myself a freelance person of faith.
Through dozens more books over the next twenty years, covering every religion from Shinto, to Sikhism, to Judaism, to Zoroastrianism, and beyond, I’d always feel better connected with the religion I was studying, and very often felt it was the perfect theology for me at that time, but remained committed to my religion of one.
More recently, the last couple years, my emphasis has been on learning about Islam, which is quite infectious the deeper one dives into it. Islam is, by far, the least understood of all the Abrahamic faiths, at least in the western world. I’ll suggest that the prejudice against Islam, especially in the United States, is far greater and more intense than any prejudice against Judaism and Christianity — to the point where it’s shameful. A story for another essay.
Anyway, I was looking at the picture below yesterday, and realized that my fascination — my love of religion began with a painting which hung in the hallway of my childhood home. And with a Christian mother and a Jewish father who, despite their many differences, never said a negative word about the religion each other was raised in. We should all be so graceful in matters of faith.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 4
Mph Avg: 13.8
Seat Time: 11 hours 11 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from The Grief Brothers. Enjoy…
In 1970, when the original Earth Day took place, Mrs. Vogel was my 2nd grade teacher. She said something to our class that day, as we sat cross-legged in the grass outside the classroom door, that forever shaped my sensibilities when in matters of planetary stewardship…
“You wouldn’t throw trash at your mother, so why would anyone throw trash at Mother Earth…?”
Perhaps it went over the heads of the other kids, but that sentence grasped me. Mrs. Vogel was one of the few teachers I still think about. She was a hippie, as much as she could be in that profession in 1970. She was also an artist, an activist, and I don’t think she cared too much for rules. She often conducted class barefoot. Fifty years later, as I walk around my studio each day without shoes, I can’t help but feel Mrs. Vogel’s influence. On Earth Day, I always think of her.
I saw a lot of nods to Earth Day on social media last week — many of the usual suggestions…
– Eat less meat
– Recycle more
– Use less water
– Conserve household energy
– Drive less, and do so in more efficient vehicles
– Travel less
– Use less paper
– Eliminate single-use plastics
– Vote for politicians who champion fighting the climate crisis
These are important ideas, and if we all practiced them, it might benefit our ecology over time. I have my own thoughts though, on some other ideas that might have a more immediate impact on climate change. The bad news is, aside from me not being an ecologist or climatologist, is that few people I speak with seem willing to entertain these.
No reasonable conversation about climate change should exclude the use of nuclear energy, if only as a 100-year (or so) bridge until the use of sustainable renewable energy is mastered and maximized.
Accept that we can live without most printed materials. This would include books, newspapers, work and legal documents, magazines, pamphlets, brochures, and correspondence, etc. Virtually everything printed today begins in digital format. Since the digital infrastructure is already in place to transmit any would-be printed material electronically, the printing of most materials, regardless of justification, isn’t necessary. Yes, even our precious books.
The amount of energy required to produce and transport our printed materials is greater than most people realize. It’s been suggested by some climate scientists that replacing all printed materials with digital copies could, by itself, create a measurable slowing of CO2 levels within a couple of decades.
Eat less. If we ate only the calories we need each day to break even with our energy expenditure, it might be the most significant personal adjustment we could make to offset climate change — even ahead of driving less, using less household energy, and recycling. Virtually every calorie we eat that we don’t require increases the strain on the global food system and subsequently the environment.
Eating only what we need, and not throwing away food unnecessarily, would bolster food supply, take stress off the transportation system, and ease the agricultural system. Notwithstanding that it might make us all healthier and function better as individuals, families, and societies.
I get it — it’s difficult to consider any of these, let alone put them into practice. Most everyone reading this believe that hardbound books and newspapers are staples of an informed and intelligent culture. And most believe that there’s nothing wrong with an extra helping of mashed potatoes with dinner or to snack as we see fit. Yet these ideas, put into play on the sooner side, might help thwart climate change as well as many of the measures that are so often talked about.
But none of this really matters. Because the most important thing we can do to combat climate change is something we are increasingly unwilling to do — to prioritize bridging the gaps between political and cultural divisions. No significant steps in addressing climate change can be initiated from a divided populous and the dysfunctional Congress elected by that populous. At the most basic level, we need to grow up, quit pointing fingers, and get to work.
I know it’s unlikely that more than a few hundred people will read this, and less likely that it will impact anyone who does. That said, I think these ideas are worth considering because they would have the most immediate and unprecedented impact on our changing ecology. Food for thought — so to say. And a nod to Mrs. Vogel.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 3
Mph Avg: 14.1
Seat Time: 12 hours 12 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along this week. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like 👍🏻 and a share. Oh, and there’s this from Peter Rowan. Enjoy…